Atlanta Fed’s Dennis Lockhart at Knoxville Economics Forum

The Knoxville Economics Forum has landed a banking heavyweight for its spring event — Dennis Lockhart, president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve and a member of the Federal Open Market Committee.

 The forum’s spring event is set for 7:30 a.m. on April 8 at Club LeConte in the First Tennessee Building, 800 South Gay St. Reservations are required. The cost is $20.

The nonpartisan Knoxville Economics Forum was created last year as an outreach of the Department of Economics at the University of Tennessee to provide “a platform for the serious discussion of economic policy matters as they relate to East Tennessee,” the group says on its website.

Kelly King, chairman and CEO of BB&T Corp. and a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, spoke at the forum’s first event last October, two weeks before the mid-term elections. King was somewhat controversial, saying the economy’s recovery depended on voters changing the “fundamentally socialist” attitude that controlled Congress.

Lockhart was more circumspect in his remarks earlier this month at the National Association for Business Economics annual Economic Policy Conference in Arlington, Va..

Lockhart was relatively upbeat in his view of the economy.

“My assessment of the state of the economy and the outlook is pretty mainstream. In terms of gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the economy is demonstrating moderate strength, and the pace of growth is accelerating somewhat.

“The private spending components of GDP are trending positively. Personal consumption overall is growing briskly even while the savings rate continues at a healthy level and households continue to deleverage. Retail sales excluding autos are growing at a solid pace, just a little below total retail sales including autos. And, importantly, consumer confidence appears to be gaining strength,” Lockhart said.

Click here for a transcript of Lockhart’s NABE speech.