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I am having some difficulty getting some of the financial defintions/contexts straight. I was wondering if somebody could help me with the following sentences:

  1. A house can be considered a type of asset.

  2. Bankers trade financial assets on a daily basis.

I see that "das Vermögen" is used for asset, but from my understanding, this just means "wealth". I also see that "der Aktivposten" is used in some contexts, and I really have no idea what is going on there. What are the differences between "der Aktivposten" and "das Vermögen"?

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    I don't think there is a direct equivalent translation for "asset"; a translation would use a word for a specific context (here: financial). The already suggested translations wouldn't work e.g. when referring to a person. – Erlkoenig Jun 27 at 9:16
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I would suggest the word:

Vermögenswert.

It means a thing of value that is part of your Vermögen (see below).

Aktivposten is used to describe asset that are on the assets side (Aktivseite) of a balance sheet.

Vermögen is the whole of your monetary worth.

Edit: Asset is a word that can be translated in various ways depending on context. Deepl gives a good list

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    So, the following would be correct? 1. Ein Haus ist einen Vermögenswert. 2. Banker tauschen finanzelle Vormögenswerte täglich aus. – Mark Jun 26 at 13:53
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    Too directly translate: 1) Ein Haus kann als eine Art Vermögenswert betrachtet werden. 2) Banker handeln täglich mit Vermögenswerten/Finanzanlagen(Better Word in this Kontext but Vermögenswerten may be used here). – Jens Krüger Jun 26 at 14:01
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The word "asset", especially in the context of your question is a term from accounting. As such, it makes sense to use accounting terms for the translation.

  1. A house can be considered an asset. This is usually true if you buy the house so that others pay you rent.
  2. Bankers trade assets, that means the buy things just to sell them later, not because they need them.

The words you found are correct for the accounting terms, but I wouldn't use "Vermögen" for these examples.

"Das Vermögen" doesn't just mean wealth, in the context of accounting it is one possible word to describe the left side of a balance sheet, the side where the assets are listed traditionally. A more specific word is "Aktiva", it refers to the asset side of the balance sheet and doesn't have much other meanings. Another expression is "Aktivseite (der Bilanz)" again for the asset side of the balance sheet. Both "Vermögen" and "Aktiva" would only be used for all assets, not for some. So you wouldn't use them for the trading bankers and while not exactly wrong it would sound strange in the context of the house.

"Aktivposten" is a word for a single asset, not for all assets. The "Posten" part is related to "Position" meaning an item in the balance sheet (or more likely in the appendix).

A house as part of the assets can be called "Vermögensgegenstand".

For the bankers the word "Vermögenswerte" may be better. Most of the time the word "Wertpapiere" (Security) would be appropriate, but the meaning is narrower than assets.

PS: The other (right) side of the balance sheet, the liabilities, are called Passiva or Passivseite.

  • Thanks! This is very helpful! So, you would say, the most general term for an object that is part of your wealth is "Vermögenswert"? It just sounds funny to me, because "Wert" is value, so the idea that it is describing an actual object, and not the VALUE of the object, is (for me) odd. Just to confirm: Man sagt "Mein Auto ist ein Vermögenswert" und nicht "Mein Auto hat Vermögenswert."? Danke nochmal – Mark Jun 26 at 18:39
  • I would prefer "Vermögensgegenstand", as mentioned. "Vermögenswerte" fits better for more abstract things like securities. In general with "Vermögenswert" the focus is more on the value and less on the object itself. I don't think of my car as "Vermögen", more "Gebauchsgegenstand". A car is not an investment, it's something to use. Most people don't use accounting terms (and many other people use them wrong). – RalfFriedl Jun 26 at 19:22

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