Looks like the drop in Spanish and Italian bond yields was at least partially driven by Spanish and Italian bank buying of their govt’s debt. While the LTRO did provide floating rate ECB term funding, funding has generally been available in any case, and the bond buying did add risk and ‘use up’ bank capital. So I suspect there is still more to it than has so far been disclosed.
ECB figures published on Monday showed that Spanish banks increased their government debt holdings by more than €23bn in January while Italian banks bought nearly €21bn – both record monthly increases. Over December and January, Italian and Spanish banks increased their holdings by 13 and 29 per cent to €280bn and €230bn respectively.