ATLANTA - To help U.S. businesses compete globally, the government must allow full interstate banking, expand banks' powers, and establish risk-adjusted deposit insurance, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta said.

Robert Forrestal, in a speech to a conference on "Efficiency in the Financial Services Industry," said moves toward European economic unity and formation of a North American free trade zone make it vital that

U.S. banks have the same broad powers as their counterparts in Europe, Canada, and Mexico.

"U.S. banking laws hamper the industry from competing fully in the global marketplace," he said. In turn, the banking industry "in some senses serves as a drag on the efficiency of U.S. companies in the international competitive arena."

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