ideas

savings and loan association

Financial institution that accepts savings from depositors and uses those funds primarily to make loans to home buyers. Savings and loan associations (S&Ls) originated with 18th-century British building societies, in which workmen banded together to finance the building of their homes. The first U.S. savings and loan was established in Philadelphia in 1831. S&Ls were initially cooperative institutions in which savers were shareholders in the association and received dividends in proportion to profits, but today are mutual organizations that offer a variety of savings plans. They are not obliged to rely on individual deposits for funds but are permitted to borrow from other financial institutions and to market mortgage-backed securities, money-market certificates, and stock. Because high inflation and rising interest rates in the 1970s made fixed-rate mortgages unprofitable, regulations were altered to permit S&Ls to renegotiate mortgages. In the late 1980s, a growing number of S&Ls failed because inadequate regulation had allowed risky investments and fraud to flourish. The government was obliged to cover vast losses in excess of $200 billion, and the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. (FSLIC) became insolvent in 1989. Its insurance functions were taken over by a new organization supervised by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the Resolution Trust Corp. was established to handle the bailout of the failed S&Ls.

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Group of lawyers organized primarily to deal with issues affecting the legal profession. In general, they are concerned with furthering the interests of lawyers through advocating reforms in the legal system, sponsoring research projects, and regulating professional standards. Bar associations sometimes administer the examinations required for admission to practice law. The largest U.S. bar association is the American Bar Assn.

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In psychology, the process of forming mental connections or bonds between sensations, ideas, or memories. Though discussed by the ancient Greeks (in terms of similarities, contrasts, and contiguities), the “association of ideas” was first proposed by John Locke and subsequently examined by David Hume, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, and William James. Ivan Pavlov used objective methods to study the phenomenon, resulting in his identification of the conditioned reflex (see conditioning). Within psychoanalysis, the therapist encourages “free association” in order to help identify latent conflicts. Practitioners of Gestalt psychology and others have criticized associationist theories as too all-embracing, while some theorists of cognitive psychology have made it central to their theory of memory.

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Governing organization for the sport of shooting with rifles and pistols. It was founded in Britain in 1860. The U.S. organization, formed in 1871, has a membership of some four million. Both the British and the U.S. groups sponsor regional and national shooting competitions and offer gun safety programs. The U.S. NRA, one of the most powerful political lobbies in the country, has vigorously opposed many legislative proposals for the control of firearms.

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Voluntary association of U.S. teachers, administrators, and other educators associated with elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities. Founded in 1857 as the National Teachers Assn., it is among the world's largest professional organizations. Operating much like a labour union, it represents its members through numerous state and local affiliates. It seeks to improve the schools and working conditions, advance the cause of public education, promote federal legislation, and sponsor research.

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formerly (until 1980) Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA)

International association of Latin American countries originally dedicated to improving its members' economic well-being through free trade. At its founding in 1960 LAFTA included Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay; by 1970 Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia had joined. The organization aimed to remove all trade barriers over 12 years, but its members' geographic and economic diversity made that goal impossible. LAFTA was superseded in 1980 by the LAIA, which established bilateral trading agreements between members, which were divided into three groups according to their level of economic development. Cuba was admitted with observer status in 1986, and it became a full member in 1999. Seealso Inter-American Development Bank.

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International organization whose purpose is to remove barriers to trade in industrial goods among its members. The EFTA's current members are Iceland, Liechteinstein, Norway, and Switzerland. It was formed in 1960 by Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and Britain as an alternative to the European Economic Community (EEC). Some of those countries later left the EFTA and joined the EEC. In the 1990s Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway joined the European Economic Area, which also included all members of the European Union. Each country in the EFTA maintains its own commercial policy toward countries outside the group.

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Organization of U.S. physicians. It was founded in 1847 “to promote the science and art of medicine and the betterment of public health.” It has about 250,000 members, about half of all practicing U.S. physicians. It disseminates information to its members and the public, operates as a lobbying group, and helps set medical education standards. Its publications include Journal of the American Medical Association, American Medical News, and journals on medical specialties.

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Voluntary association (founded 1878) of U.S. lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals. The largest bar association in the U.S., it seeks to improve the legal profession, ensure the availability of legal services to all citizens, and improve the administration of justice. It conducts educational and research projects, sponsors professional meetings, and publishes a monthly journal. At the beginning of the 21st century its membership exceeded 400,000.

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