Lanchester, a Brit and writer by trade, started his research into the current financial debacle as background for a novel he was writing. He soon found a mind-boggling story worth telling without any fictional embellishment. His description of credit markets, hedge-funds, mortgages and other financial toys are remarkably clear and easy to understand. Lanchester peppers his description of the financial meltdown with stories of the self-satisfied bankers who helped create this debacle. The book is surprisingly readable, never dry and rich with a heavy serving of British snark and a soupcon of vitriol. The British take is any additional interesting facet.
So yes, the regulators were useless, but their failures wasn’t like that of a lifeguard who doesn’t notice that some of his swimmers are in trouble, it was more of a lifeguard supervising swimmers who are secretly pouring blood into the water because they think it would be more exciting if the place was livened up with a few sharks.