The US economy plunged again in the first quarter of 2009, its worst performance for five decades.This reflected further declines in housing. and the biggest fall in exports for 40 years. Gross domestic product dropped more than forecast, by 6.1 percent. Analysts had predicted a contraction of five percent. This is the third quarter of falls and the longest period of continuous decline since for over 30 years. The only chink of hope is that consumer spending was better than expected. At its regular meeting, the Federal Reserve did not have much leeway. With interest rates already close to zero, and the economic impact of swine flu, it chose to leave interest rates unchanged.