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This is the context. The person the people below speak of is a journalist who was convicted for Libel.

Salander: He’s honest. He’s who he presents himself to be. In his business, that’s an asset.
FRODE: There’s less in his asset column after his conviction today.

What is an asset column in this context? Is there an asset column in a curriculum vitae? This is what I thought he was alluding to but was unable to find it in any cv.

"Column" noun (source:Thefreedictionary) a. any of two or more vertical sections of type on a printed page, esp on a newspaper page

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This is referring to "columns" in a spreadsheet or other accounting table. An accountant handling finances, even in days before computers, would add up "assets" in a vertical column to be totaled (and, in other columns, "liabilities" or debts or withdrawals). As we see in definition 6 of this entry, that meaning can be extended to non-financial matters:

: a statistical category or grouping
// put another game in the win column

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It is simply a sort of accounting metaphor. His reputation is now tarnished, i.e. his libel conviction (or at least the libel itself) made a significant withdrawal from his reputation for honesty.

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  • I understand the sense of the sentence but the question I asked was " what does an asset column mean. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 17:16
  • @StaticBounce - it's a metaphor. There is no column anywhere. In an an imaginary table of his personal qualities, there might be an equally imaginary column headed 'assets' and it might contain 'reputation for honesty: 10 points'. Now that number must be smaller because of his court appearance, says Frode. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 20:26

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