Spare a thought for Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who this week has the unenviable task of playing out “Sophie’s Choice” in real life.

Fed officials gather for a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. On Wednesday, Powell will announce the central bank’s intentions for interest rates.

Prior to the banking mess, many on Wall Street had anticipated a half-point increase in light of recent stats showing the economy — and inflation — remain stubbornly strong.

But trouble in the banking sector is the monkey in the wrench.

Higher rates mean higher borrowing costs, which can be a body blow to banks already grappling with the effects of past rate hikes.

So if you’re Powell, what’s the smart play?

Do you maintain an aggressive posture on inflation to show that you feel consumers’ pain?

Or do you skip the expected rate increase to show you feel banks’ pain?

Tough calls like this are why Powell makes the big bucks (about $190,000, in case you’re wondering).

I’m going out on a limb and figuring the Fed will reveal another rate hike, but almost certainly a quarter-point increase and not a half-point.

And the main reason for this, I suspect, is not to demonstrate once again that he’s going toe to toe with Mean Mr. Inflation, but rather that he doesn’t want to signal that the banking crisis is worse than many might believe.

Skipping an expected rate increase could be taken by some as an indication that the central bank is more worried than people thought, which could accelerate selloffs of some bank stocks.

San Francisco’s First Republic saw its shares plunge another 47% Monday. The company has lost about 90% of its market value since the beginning of the year.

What Powell definitely doesn’t want is to stir up pessimism about other mid-tier banks.

So I’m saying, yes, there will be a rate hike on Wednesday, but not a big one. And there probably will be explicit language from the Fed about how it takes everything seriously — inflation, banks, the economy, whatever.

Like I say, Powell doesn’t have an easy gig, especially at times like this.

And it goes without saying that whatever he decides to do, there will be plenty of second guessing to follow.