This question stems from some thoughts I've been having while reading Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad Poor Dad".
In the book, Kiyosaki defines "asset" as something that puts money in your pocket. Many English speakers on the internet would point out that that definition is incompatible with accounting standards, where an "asset" is basically defined as "something you have, which can be liquidated if necessary". A little research suggests that the ultimate origin of the English word "asset" comes from Latin "ad satis", which roughly refers to the "thing" being used to satisfy settlement of debt.
On the Chinese (and Japanese) side, the usual translation for "asset" is 「資產」.
What I'm curious about is what the word actually means from the etymological point of view. Chinese being Chinese, each of the individual characters carries some meaning. 「資」can be a verb - "to finance"/"to fund" - and also a noun - "capital"; similarly, 「產」 can both be a verb - "to produce" - or a noun - "product" or "produce" (as in some wine being labelled "Produce of France"). Furthermore, when the characters are used in this composite way, it's not entirely clear whether the verb is meant to be active or passive.
I believe that 「資」 within the context of 「資產」 is pretty unambiguous. Whether I take it as the verb "to finance" or the noun "capital" doesn't really make a difference. After all, the purpose of "capital" is to finance something. And it makes no sense to think of 「資產」 as something that "is financed" (note the passive voice).
However, I find 「產」 to be problematic. I've tried looking up the character 「產」 in both 《現代漢語詞典》 and 《古漢語常用字字典》, the explanations in both dictionaries basically circle back to 「物產」, 「產品」, 「生產」, 「產業」, 「財產」, and 「出產」. So within the context of 「資產」, I could take 「產」 to mean either "something used to produce wealth" (because of 「產業」), or "the result of production" (because of 「出產」 and 「產品」). I believe that whether 「產」 takes one meaning or the other might make a cultural difference in the perception of "assets" by the Chinese people. If 「產」 means "something used to produce wealth", then it would really be like Kiyosaki says, "something that puts money in your pocket". It would be something to be valued and cherished, not something that one should easily handover "to satisfy the settlement of debt". On the other hand, if 「產」 is taken to mean the "result of production", then it would really be like a thing that has no other value than for settling debt.