The world is facing a dangerous power vacuum which may last for decades. This vacuum is developing because Europe and the USA are currently in a phase of relative decline while China, India and Brazil are claiming international standing without being able to fill this role. A close look reveals several significant changes in global politics and the world economy: China, Russia, India and Brazil are global actors and are gaining relative strength. Together with other regional powers (e.g. Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia) they are influencing global energy, climate, security, trade, and development policies. At the same time, however, they are too weak because they – despite partly strong economic growth – are unable to eradicate poverty in their own countries and an extremely imbalanced distribution of income and wealth prevails resulting in massive social problems. Their ability to effectively lead on a global level is limited as they do not yet provide enough global public goods (security, monetary arrangements, development aid).