This paper describes the role of private law and its founding principle of private autonomy in the modern consumer credit society. It shows that the financialisation of the economy and a conceivable shift from welfare to a «market state» has direct consequences for the regulation of consumer and mortgage credit. An analysis of pertinent EU legislation reveals that consumer and mortgage credit is being charged with public policy functions, supposed to perform both economic and social tasks in order to compensate for a diminished role of the welfare state. Considering the consequences of these developments at a more theoretical level, private autonomy is neither necessarily expanded nor limited, but «regulated» in order to achieve financial and social inclusion. The events linked to the financial crisis are likely to trigger developments at EU level which will have further impacts on contract law and the traditional understanding of private autonomy.