I can’t help but hear the voices in my head. It is as if we are sitting at a horse racetrack as we watch national economies jockeying through the field all looking for the lead. “And coming around the Q1 corner entering the first straight away, HOLY SMOKES, it is the US trailing with Euro-area pulling ahead and Japan in the lead!!!” The image of these little horses coming into view ridden hard by their respective central bankers Janet, Mario, and Haruhiko each with their country’s flag on their jerseys gives us a little chuckle as we head towards the long holiday weekend. Like most good humor, it is not far from the truth. Japan this week announced Q1 GDP at 2.4% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) annualized rate. As we mentioned in last week’s write up, not many investors would have guessed as 2014 came to a close that Europe would be quicker out of the gate as the start of the new race. Fewer still likely thought that Japan would not only be out front but several lengths ahead. Of course, the important point is not how the horse starts the race….it’s how it finishes. As the crowd looks on from the stands with their betting tickets in hand, they have to be wondering whether Japan will have the gas in the tank to keep the lead till the end. Diving into the growth number just emphasizes the question. Q1 growth in Japan was driven by an increase in inventories. In fact, if you exclude inventory build the growth was just 0.4% QoQ annualized. That is either glass half full or empty depending on your perspective. Is it just a temporary boost or the sign that sales are going to sustainably increase? Our eyes are on the track to see how it plays out.