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No January jitters thanks to Fed: Hedge fund pro

The bottom line in the debate over the Fed's QE moves is that investors don't have the January jitters this year, hedge fund manager Dinakar Singh told CNBC on Thursday.

"At least people aren't nervous about an immediate shock tomorrow," the TPG-Axon Capital founder and CEO said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "For the first time in a bunch of years, we start in January without people nervous about a shock someplace."

Singh was reluctant to handicap the Fed's next move, now that policymakers have started to taper by $10 billion their quantitative easing bond purchases to $75 billion a month. He likened scaling back QE to "trying to figure out a dose to give a patient by observation." Dial back the stimulus dose and see what happens, he said.

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While the Fed has said it won't increase short-term interest rates for the foreseeable future, Singh expressed concern about when that happens. "When you look at rates right now, I suspect the Fed is going to find out once they start raising the ability to control the back-end is not as good as they think."

With $4 billion in assets under management, TPG returned about 19 percent in both 2013 and 2012. But like its rivals, the hedge fund lagged the S&P 500 Index's 30 percent increase last year. The S&P gained 11 percent in 2012.

But Singh made his case for why a 38 percent return over the past two years is still pretty good. "If you can be roughly in line with the market in its two best years in a long time, with low net exposure, no one is going to give you a hard time."

Exemplified by those gains, TPG recorded better returns last year, in comparison to many of its rivals.

The data-crunching company Hedge Fund Research said that funds specializing in activist investing in the 60-fund universe it tracks returned 16.6 percent in 2013.

While that's still far less than the S&P 500's gain, it's far better than the average hedge fund, which returned only 9.3 percent last year.

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC. CNBC's Maneet Ahuja and Reuters contributed to this report.

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