Google shocker: American web company says web boosted American economy by $500 billion

Who knew that a company which makes a lot of money on the web would be keen to pitch the web as important to the US economy? Google thinks it's as natural as breathing, as it just took significant credit for fueling real-world shopping. About 97 percent of Americans reportedly searched online for a local business -- it's safe to say Google was involved in a lot of those hunts -- and spent an average of nearly $2,000 per person at brick-and-mortar stores last year. The search giant extrapolates to argue that the web pumped about $500 billion into the US economy, even while excluding internet-only sales. That's certainly a staggering number that shows how much of a cornerstone the internet has become for American business, although it comes across as slightly insecure: a company that's reportedly under tight scrutiny from regulators might be eager to show just how much good it's doing for the public in tough economic times.