Irregular times call for irregular investment strategies.
Jeff Middleswart might be a poster boy for outside-the-box investing during the current downturn. In February, Middleswart took over as manager of a mutual fund that explicitly invests in "sin stocks" like cigarettes, alcohol, gambling and defense. Aptly named the Vice Fund, Middleswart's impious portfolio is up 4.5 percent on the year, compared to the S&P 500's 1.9 percent loss over the same period.
Sin stocks are not the only unusual investments achieving above-average performance in the markets, while the traditional 401(k) has underperformed. Other alternative investments beating the recession include a couple luxurious goods and a foreign market that soared 53 percent in the first half of 2010.
And while we're not advocating for these investments outright, for the sake of comparison, here are six alternative investments that have outperformed the larger U.S. stock market either in the last year or the last few years: