But increased bond issuance stopped the year from being a washout, as governments continued to tap the markets heavily and companies continue to rely on the markets rather than banks for funds.
JP Morgan topped the industry rankings by wallet share for the year, its fourth consecutive year at the top, with 7.6 per cent of total revenues, down on 8.1 per cent last year.
It was followed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, with 6.5 per cent, and Goldman Sachs on 5.8 per cent.
Total investment bank revenues came in at $63.6bn (£39.1bn), down nine per cent on the year and the lowest total since 2009.
Debt capital markets revenue accounted for 33 per cent of that, up from 23 per cent in 2011 and the highest share since 1997. In cash terms, revenues rose to $21.1bn.
But equity capital markets revenue fell to $13.3bn, accounting for 21 per cent of total revenues, the lowest proportion on record.
Initial public offerings (IPOs) were particularly sparse, with revenues falling 33 per cent to $3.8bn – just six per cent of the banks’ revenues, from 8.2 per cent in 2011.
Syndicated loan revenues dropped 32 per cent to $11.8bn, or 19 per cent of investment bank revenues.
And merger and acquisition incomes slumped 15 per cent to $17.5bn.